100 (nearly) Free Things to Do with Your Kids This Summer

Whether you have small children or those who just got out of school for the summer, you may be looking for some creative ways to spend your time during the hot months besides just days at the pool or different camps for your kids. Here is a list of 100 nearly free things to do with your kids this summer.

Indoor activities can be done on rainy days or those days where it is just too hot to be outside. Use the outside activities for those nice, sunny days! Please comment and let us know what your different and creative ideas are for how to spend the summer days with your kids!

Indoor activities

  1. Visit a different library each week of the summer. 
  2. Make homemade popsicles in the morning or afternoon. In the evening, let the kids eat them while getting their bath for the night. Easy cleanup!
  3. Have your kids help make dinner. For something different, have a progressive dinner where each family member makes a different course.
  4. Or, have a backwards dinner where you eat dessert first, then the main course!
  5. Take the kids to the Play Library in Over the Rhine. Seriously, this is the best place for a rainy (or any) day! Kids can come in and play with anything for free. If you do want to “borrow” something to take home for a while, there is a monthly or yearly fee, depending on how many (2-4) items you would like to check out at a time. They also have Beer ‘n Board Game nights for the 21+ older crowd on certain days. Just go—and thank us later!
  6. Have a writing day for your family. Write each of your kids a note and tell them what you specifically love about them. Allow older kids to write notes to each other. Then read them aloud.
  7. Check out the Cincinnati Art Museum. General admission is always free!
  8. Let your children help plan the next family vacation.
  9. Volunteer somewhere together.
  10. Watch one of your favorite movies that you loved when you were growing up with your kids.
  11. Design a cookbook of your favorite family recipes. Allow older kids to type or write the recipes. Younger kids can help glue the recipes in a book and decorate with stickers.
  12. Have the kids help you clean! Here is a great guide by age. 
  13. Check out a new indoor play area in Cincinnati. Look for discounts on certain days of the week or savings on single or multiple visits on discount websites.
  14. Make a fort with blankets and play underneath.
  15. Have your kids help you clean up the basement or play area. You’ll be surprised what missing toys or treasures you will find!
  16. Make big multi-colored crayons out of broken ones.
  17. Go through your kids’ books with them to see what ones they have outgrown. Donate some to a shelter or somewhere that could use them.
  18. Go through kids clothing and toys and do the same thing!
  19. Start a long chapter book and read aloud to your kids.
  20. Have a dance party anywhere in the house!
  21. Go to Home Depot for one of their free kids’ workshops. They will get to do a project to take home, receive a free certificate, pin, and apron!
  22. Play in the rain! Grab the rainboots and umbrellas or just go outside in whatever you’re wearing and get soaked!
  23. Write time capsule letters to each member in your family. “Bury” them in a special place to read the next summer or in a certain amount of time.
  24. Do yoga or some stretches together.
  25. Blow up a balloon and hit it back and forth. Have a game to see the highest hits back and forth you can keep it going in the air.
  26. If you have a lot of time on your hands (and older kids), give their bedrooms a fresh makeover by letting them choose a paint color. Then teach them how to help you paint!
  27. Go bowling. For a fun twist, make everyone bowl with his or her non-dominant hand.
  28. If Grandma and Grandpa live close, visit them and ask about what life was like when they grew up.
  29. Play 20 questions.
  30. Write a book together.
  31. Visit a bookstore. See if they have a story hour you can attend. Call ahead to ask if they have any toys for kids to play with. Read and play the day away.
  32. Visit Krohn Conservatory
  33. Visit a mall and take a long walk with the kids. Let them play in the play area. Let them throw pennies in the fountain. Go on a hunt for alphabet letters on store signs. Top it off by having a picnic in the food court with food you have packed from home!
  34. Have the kids help you plan the dinner menu for the next week.
  35. Write a letter to a soldier together with your kids. There are many websites you can do this, but this one has a commitment of three months and you must request a minimum of one name per month. Perfect for the summer, and your kids may have so much fun doing it that they want to do it all year!
  36. Take kids to a pet store to look at the animals. Remind them that looking does not necessarily mean buying!
  37. Start a challenging puzzle together.
  38. Camp indoors with a tent or fort, sleeping bags. Fix hot dogs and s’mores.
  39. Make a look and find bottle. Kids will love turning it around to find all that you hide inside!
  40. Play I Spy in each room in the house. Allow each child to find 3-5 things in each room before moving on to the next room.
  41. Visit the Taft Museum of Art. They have many events for kids that are free. Admission into the museum for kids 5 and under is free.
  42. Have a board game day. Allow each child to pick a game and play at least one round before moving onto the next game.
  43. Visit the American Sign Museum. Up to three kids ages 12 and under are free with each paying adult.
  44. Do your kids love fire trucks? Baked goods or ice cream? Inquire about a free tour at your local firehouse or favorite business!
  45. Spend some time working on baby books or scrapbooks. Allow older kids to help with page design and captions for the photos.
  46. Visit one (or both!) of the locations of Jungle Jim’s. There is so much fun stuff to look at and it is fun to see all of the different foods that they sell. Pick out something new to try!
  47. On your grocery shopping trips, have your kids pick out a new vegetable or fruit that they have not tried before.
  48. Make homemade cards to send to out of town family.
  49. Visit the Contemporary Arts Center. Admission is free for all, but your kids will love exploring the UnMuseum there.
  50. Make a summer bucket list of new activities your family would like to try next year.

Outdoor activities

  1. Go to a splash park.
  2. Fill a small plastic container with water and bubbles. Let the kids give their plastic toy cars a wash.
  3. Get a big bucket, sponges, soap and the hose and give your real vehicles a wash.
  4. See a free movie outdoors.
  5. Play flashlight tag outside when it is dark.
  6. Try out a new park on a different side of town.
  7. Save a big cardboard box for the right day. Cut a spot for a door and lots of windows. Take it outside with markers, crayons, paint and glitter and allow your kids to decorate their box house.
  8. Visit a you-pick berries location and then look for a new recipe to make something yummy with them for dessert.
  9. Make a homemade piñata and fill it with some small fun toys they could play with outside. For an additional surprise, write special surprise activities you can do with your kids on small notes and put them inside small boxes or Easter eggs.
  10. Run through the sprinklers.
  11. Have a picnic.
  12. Go to a drive in movie theater. If allowed, bring snacks.
  13. Fill up a water table with bath toys or plastic toys. If you don’t have a water table, fill up a big plastic bin with water.
  14. Make sun tea.
  15. Host a run in the backyard or neighborhood. Have the kids make medals with craft supplies for all the runners. Host drinks and snacks after the race is over.
  16. Set up canvases or large paper or boxes outside and let your kids get creative with paint and other craft supplies.
  17. Search for rocks and paint them with inspirational messages. Then hide them around town. Search for some that others have painted!
  18. Have a lemonade or cookie stand and teach your kids about managing the money that they earn from it.
  19. Enjoy some music at a free concert this summer.
  20. Set up a scavenger hunt in the backyard.
  21. Make a mini golf course in the backyard. Lay plastic cups down on their sides for the holes and sticks for the barriers on the side of your golf course. Add toys as barriers.
  22. Give haircuts in the backyard. Then, style hair into different styles and let the kids pick what one they like best.
  23. Make homemade ice cream.
  24. Take a hike at a park.
  25. Take what you found at the park (rocks, sand, sticks, flowers—dry them first) and make some artwork!
  26. Star gaze at night. Learn about the constellations here.
  27. Have a sleepover outside with tents and sleeping bags. Go all out with camp-style food and don’t use the amenities inside your house.
  28. Plant a small garden outside. Each child can plant his or her favorite fruit or vegetable.
  29. Have a water balloon party in the backyard.
  30. Visit a Farmer’s Market.
  31. Visit a farm. Bonus points for a petting zoo or a place you can buy a few fresh fruits or veggies!
  32. Have a contest to see who can pull the most weeds in the garden or pick up the most sticks in the yard.
  33. Explore the sculptures on the beautiful grounds of Pyramid Hill Park. Kids 5 and under get in free.
  34. Make a sandbox with a small container if you don’t have a real sandbox. Load it up with buckets, shovels, and toys.
  35. Make artwork in the driveway with chalk.
  36. Canoe or pedal on a paddle boat for a small rental fee at some of the Hamilton County Parks.
  37. Find shapes in the clouds.
  38. If you have early risers, go somewhere pretty and watch the sunrise. If you have kids who stay up late, watch the sunset. If you have both, God bless you!
  39. Take a family bike ride on the Loveland Bike Trail.
  40. Volunteer to hand out water or Gatorade at a local run/walk race.
  41. For a small fee, take yourselves and/or the car across the Anderson Ferry.
  42. Go on a “mystery” road trip. Load the kids in the car but don’t tell them where you are going. Your destination could be to a different park, a new library, museum or restaurant. Be creative!
  43. Learn about a new flower or plant and then plant your favorite one!
  44. Have a family night out at a Florence Freedom Baseball game. Tickets are very inexpensive, parking is free, and there is a Kids Zone where the kids can play when they are not watching the game.
  45. Have a bubble bath outside. Put some bubbles and water in a kiddie pool and hide toys for the kids to find.
  46. Play hide and seek.
  47. Play Frisbee golf at a local park.
  48. Meet some neighbors you have not met before. Bonus points if you make a play date or bake them some goodies!
  49. Watch planes take off at CVG.
  50. Clean out the house and have a yard sale. Tell the kids they can keep whatever money they make off of selling their belongings that they choose not to donate.

Well there you have it! Get to it and add your own below!

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